Interpersonal communication is a daily reality that must occur in society, given the fact that man is a social animal. Communication in a human being starts before birth and takes place throughout one’s life. It is important to note that communication does not necessarily need to be verbal, but can also include signs and other ways through which messages can be sent and received conveniently.
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In this regard, human communication entails making sense in the world and sharing the information through both verbal and non-verbal communication. Arguably, interpersonal communication is a very vital skill that people must use in daily life including in career development and achieving their goals. As a matter of fact, interpersonal communication involves sending and receiving messages with both negative and positive results and is affected by different factors.
Interpersonal communication is very crucial in developing relationships in society because relationships are all about how people communicate with one another. Words that are used in communication need to be understood for any meaningful effect to take place. It is important to note that interpersonal communication is helpful in enhancing the understanding of the words that people use within conversations thus avoiding misunderstanding and misjudgments.
However, it is interpersonal perception present in every person that shapes interpersonal communication. Research shows that interpersonal perception often leads to the formation of prejudices on what people are like. As a result, different meanings are given to people’s action while at the same time impressions about people’s personalities are formed.
People who are aware and skilled in communication stand a better chance when it comes to understanding and perceiving others with objectivity. Skills of communication enable one to avoid forming impressions about people with certain characteristics which might lead to subjectivity in judgment. Consequently, these people usually have fair inferences about people’s motives, personalities, and other human qualities. Therefore, the study of interpersonal communication enhances the skills of people regarding how they conduct their relationships.
It is important to note that communication is highly volatile and is influenced by several different factors including culture, gender, and ethnicity. Culture has been defined as a collection of values, traits, norms, and attitudes that define the expected code of conduct in a community. Culture is not universal and varies from one community to another.
It is quite normal for people to evaluate others according to life experiences they have with the person’s cultural group. Consequently, culture highly influences how we process and interpret information depending on the cultural background of our communication partner. Moreover, culture and sometimes gender determines the meaning that is given to different words.
On the same note, friendship also affects interpersonal communication. Defined as a type of relationship where one has a choice on whether and when to quit, friendship provides support to people both emotionally and psychologically. It is important to note that friendship changes as one develops through childhood to maturity. As friendship changes, the way people send and receive messages with one another also change. Friends sometimes use words differently from their conventional use. Consequently, interpersonal communication between friends has sometimes coded thus interpretations as well as inferences are different.
Family relationship is also another aspect that highly affects interpersonal communication. Family is the basic unit in a society where people get their first orientation on how people should conduct themselves in society. It is the family that orients people to conversations and conformity. The family has been categorized into four categories: protective, consensual, pluralistic and laissez-faire. The different types of families educate people differently on how to listen to others, conflict management as well as matters regarding relationships. Therefore, interpersonal communication highly differs along with the various types of family.
Communication is not only about speaking or rather sending the message only, but also includes that act of receiving and acting on the message. Therefore, listening is very crucial in the interpersonal communication process. Firstly, listening takes the largest portion of any communication, when people are either processing the information being received or just giving others time to pass their message. It has been noted that listening style of people defines their preferred way of making sense of unspoken words.
Therefore, listening styles give a hint on how people are likely to react to the message being passed. In order to have a successful communication mission, it is important for one to understand the listening style of his or her communication partner. Notably, there are four distinct listening styles that are mostly used by people. These are people-oriented, time-oriented, action-oriented and content-oriented. Wrong decision on the type of listening used by one’s communication partner usually leads to a breakdown in communication.
Having stated how important interpersonal communication is and outlined some of the factors that affect it, it is important to note that communication has negative effects too. Words are known to affect emotions and even inflict pain depending on how they are used and the context in which they are used. It is not peculiar for people to use one lie or another in their conversations.
Deception can take two forms that are; omission where some information is left out either intentionally or by mistake and commission where false information is passed to receivers. Instead of helping in developing relationships, deception destroys relationships by eliminating the trust that is critical in every relationship.
On the same note, communication also hurts especially when negative comments are given. People get depressed when others comment negatively about their physical appearance, personality or their ability in different areas. In this regard, communication fails to perform its expected functions of enhancing relationships. These kinds of comments have been known to mete out pain on people. Consequently, people become apprehensive of those who like commenting negatively resulting in stereotyping. The result is misinterpretation and sometimes misconceptions when communicating or decoding others’ verbal and non-verbal messages.
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On the other hand, Interpersonal relationship can also be bad. The negative outcomes of interpersonal relationship include jealousy where one person is uncomfortable when the other relationships with different people. In addition, interpersonal relationships have also been known to lead to obsessive relation intrusion. The behavior makes people excessively concerned with other people’s affairs to the extent that they intrude into their private lives. Relationship violence also results when interpersonal relationships fail to work on society’s expectation.
The violence varies from just minor emotional stresses to physical violence leading to serious injuries. Marriages are good examples of how interpersonal relationships can lead to violence. It should be noted that relationships fail because of faults, unwilling to compromise and the feeling of being constrained. However, the failure of interpersonal communication plays a very crucial role in determining the cohesiveness of relationships. Therefore, failure in interpersonal communication often leads to failure of interpersonal relationships.